Frank Gambale speed picking exercise

This is an exercise I made to practice speed picking. It can be played as a “loop” up and down, or up only or down only.

In its ascending form, it can be seen as a riff, 9 notes long. I use it as starting on tonic, and ending on a ninth. It can be attached to the pentatonic “box” we all know.

I’ll have to use text to explain it, since I have no video.

The string is given, then the fret and pick-stroke, then the finger.

This stays in one four-fret position, with a finger for each fret (1-2-3-4).

Ascending form:
A string: 5 (down) (2nd finger)
D String: 4 (down) 5 (up) 7 (down) (1-2-4 fingers)
G string: 4 (down) 5 (up) 7 (down) (1-2-4 fingers)
B string: 4 (down) 5 (up) (1-2 fingers)

To use the above as a riff, in the key of A start on fret 5, second finger (position IV). It attaches to the “back” of the pentatonic box in A.

Ascending and Descending, endless loop:
A string: 5 (down) (2nd finger)
D String: 4 (down) 5 (up) 7 (down) (1-2-4 fingers)
G string: 4 (down) 5 (up) 7 (down) (1-2-4 fingers)
B string: 4 (down) 5 (up) (1-2 fingers)
(change of direction to descending)
G string: 7 (up) 5 (down) 4 (up) (4-2-1)
D string: 7 (up) 5 (down) 4 (up) (4-2-1)
A string: 7 (up) 5 (down) (4-2)
(this was your starting point)
End it, or continue back up in an endless loop.

I can do the ascending riff at speed, but have problems with the descending, either starting with descent (from string 2 , frets 4-5, fingers 1-2) or as a loop. My descending picking is not together yet.

The more I practice the fast ascent, and relax my pick grip, I seem to start “hopping”, and it feels good. This feels like the natural pick style for me, unlike Gambale’s way of sweeping or “raking” the pick over the strings. I like to articulate it more.

An afterthought: after watching on YouTube, again for the tenth time, Troy’s two crucial videos, “Inside the Volcano” and “Eric the Right,” it seems to me that with an understanding of Frank Gambale’s speed picking principles, along with the “exceptions” provided by Yngwie and Eric, a determined player should be able to engineer any riff he could imagine.

These free videos are an extremely generous gesture by Troy Grady. Thank you, Troy.

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Almost any - If I understand this correctly :slight_smile:

The famous “all-inside picking” Petrucci exercise, for example, seems to elude all these picking systems (video should start at 5:15):

Another breakthrough! After carefully studying Yngwie’s minor scale, and EJ’s “fives” pattern from the videos, I figured out a way to apply the “fives” to my speed picking exercise! I also simultaneously “grokked” the principle of downward pick slanting, starting a downstroke on a different string after an upstroke! The difference seems to me that EJ is “zig-zagging” when he does this (or changing riff direction from descending to ascending). I also now see the “mechanics” of this upstroke-string change-downstroke!

Here is the new speed-picking exercise, using the new (for me) method:

Ascending form:
A string: 4 (down) 5 (up) 7 (down) (fingers 1-2-4)
D String: 4 (down) 5 (up) (fingers 1-2) (this is a group of 5)
Next 5:
A string: 7 (finger 4) (downstroke! This is the crucial part)
D string: 4 (down) 5 (up) 7 (down) (fingers 1-2-4)
G string: 4 (down) 5 (up) (1-2 fingers)
Next 5:
D string (finger 4) (down! Crucial!)
G string: 4 (down) 5 (up) 7 (down) (fingers 1-2-4)
B string: 4 (down) 5 (up) (fingers 1-2) (end of ascending riff)

The easiest way for me to conceive of this riff/principle is to “start each group of 5 on a downstroke.”

I haven’t figured out the descent yet.

It seems to me that this is alternate picking applied to string-changing. It seems to elude Gambale’s speed-picking principles, but sticks strictly to alternate picking, with string changing facilitated by pick-slanting. Notice that his picking pattern is down-up-down-up, regardless of string changes or direction of the riff.
Another way of putting it: It seems that the “exceptions” in EJ’s riffs are actually just a fall-back to the reflexive nature of alternate picking, starting on downstrokes, as a desire for the articulation that alternate picking provides. That’s why Gambale’s strict adherence to his speed-picking principles sounds less articulated.
The reflexive desire of guitarists seems to be “a downstroke when you are hitting a new string,” thus alternate picking. EJ seems to have circumvented this by expanding it to “a downstroke when you are hitting a new grouping.”
The reflexive nature of downstrokes seems to be the obstacle to overcome.
Upstrokes are seen as being paired with a downstroke, in a “down-up” dyad. It takes effort to overcome the “downstroke” reflex, and start a riff on a new string using an upstroke.

Forgive me if I"m boring the more knowledgeable players, but “this is me” discovering things on my own, so to speak. Assisted by Troy Grady’s brilliant videos, of course.
With me, I like to try to understand the underlying principles behind things, then apply it to my own specifics. When I learn riffs, for example, I will always end up transforming it, rhythmically or by moving it around harmonically. I might end up using just a part of the riff, or a principle I can derive from it.

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Good stuff!

The groups of five are interesting, sound good in solos too. I like to play them using alternate picking and loop them so the pick stroke get switched up. Starting in different notes in The patterns and switch arounf the accent make it super fun!